Every once and awhile I feel the need to put information that is important into a blog post for easy reference. Today’s post is an amalgamation of the concept of Mansplaining, what it involves and how and why it happens.
Let’s start of with a definition:
Mansplaining isn’t just the act of explaining while male, of course; many men manage to explain things every day without in the least insulting their listeners.
Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate “facts” about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.
Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!
Think about the men you know. Do any of them display that delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with the rock-solid conviction of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation?
That dude is a mansplainer.”
Another definition: Mansplaining — you know mansplaining, right? It’s that loud, annoying, repetitive alarm call that men emit whenever they perceive a lower-status person challenging their authority — isn’t really so goddam hilarious in and of itself. This is because it is a hallmark of domination culture, because it is comprised primarily of meaningless noise (whether taken in or out of context), and because it is obfuscatory, oppressive, denigrating, sexist, and rude. It can only achieve comic status when openly mocked. Preferably by an angry mob.
More definition goodness from the comment thread:
“This is clearly a form of taxonomy, where we are classifying a form of speech. Specifically:
“the use of male privilege to justify condescending and unnecessary explanation to an equally or more knowledgeable female.”
Note 1: This applies even when the speaker has no clue that the recipient is female, and indeed when the genders of all participants are completely indeterminate.
Note 2: There is apparently some sort of “male privilege” concept which holds between two anonymous bloggers of no discernible gender.
Note 3: Some feel that this phenomenon can occur between men, though others disagree. Both sides agree that the concept that is inherently about minz talking down to wimminz because they are wimminz – even when the recipients are minz or presumed to be minz. It’s unclear whether the reverse holds true, ie, whether a valid charge of mansplaining can be upheld when the anonymous speaker is actually and/or presumed to be a wimminz – more testing in this area may be required.
Note 4: Questioning why anyone feels the need to inject sexism as an explanation into a situation completely devoid of gender roles or identity is sexist, and a form of mansplaining.
Note 5: On balance, mansplaining seems to be more of a convenient label which describes the *response* to dialog rather than the dialog itself. Overall, it seems to be a specific solution of the “why can’t [subgroup] just shut up and realize how right I am all of the time?” for cases where [subgroup] == men and [speaker] = female. Of course, many such solutions exist, including the converse for [subgroup] == women, [subgroup] == foreigners, [subgroup] == [members of hated political party], etc.
Recommend further testing to validate this hypothesis.”
Of course we need a heartwarming anecdote:
“And, as perhaps one of my all-time favorite examples of mansplaining, one time, my girlfriend and I were eating dinner with a white male human. During the course of this meal, I recounted a true story about a high school in the Midwest whose mascot used to be a racial slur for a Chinese person. This mascot was changed sometime in the early 1980s, due to members of this racial minority group protesting. After I told this story, at which many members of the dinner party were quite horrified, the white male human dinner companion misread what, exactly, everyone else was horrified about. Instead, he replied, with perfect certainty, “That is what you call Political Correctness Gone Awry,” and then proceeded to continue eating his Man Food, assuming that the conversation was over now that he had sufficiently mansplained the travesty that had occurred.
His lack of empathy aside, it was that deadly combo of dead certainty that his point of view was completely objective coupled with that incompetent assumption that he was automatically more In The Know About Things than all women present that pretty much defines the art of mansplanation. Yet, the privilege of his race cannot be discounted here, either. Oftentimes, whiteness and maleness work together to exponentially increase a man’s propensity to mansplain.
And so this instance, was also a classic case of whitesplaining, whereby a white person whitesplains how a person of color is “wrong” about something being racist against people of color. It’s the same basic idea as mansplaining- as both are grounded in the privilege of one’s identity being considered society’s default and, therefore, more objective than the experiences of Other identities.
Whereas whitesplaining is the result of the white experience being “normed,” mansplaining, is the logical result of males possessing the privilege whereby they are largely assumed to be both default human beings and automatically competent at life. If white people and men, and especially white males, are not aware of this, they are incredibly likely to wrongly assume themselves to be more competent than women and people of color at pretty much everything, up to and including what it means to live as a female or person of color in society.”
Not a bad start, and for the record if you get referred here please take the time to read and understand the concepts mentioned above, it will save everyone a lot of time.